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The Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians announced on Wednesday it had acquired Mad River Brewery from the Yurok Tribe in northern California. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. 

The Paskenta Tribe plans to keep all existing staff, including Mad River Brewing CEO Linda Cooley, as it embarks on a plan to build out the tribe’s presence in the brewing and distillery sector, according to Paskenta Chairman Andrew Alejandre.

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The acquisition of Blue Lake, Calif.-based Mad River expands the Paskenta Tribe’s existing brewery and distillery operations, which are focused on serving the tribe’s casino and resort customers, Alejandre said. Paskenta Brewery & Distillery currently produces between 730 and 750 barrels of craft beer a year, including its Shapeshifter IPA, Hopsidian Pale Ale, and Paskenta Gold Golden Ale. 

A conversation with Cooley last October sparked the idea of acquiring Mad River and its 14 employees as a way to continue building the Paskenta’s presence in the brew and distillery industry without building an entirely new operation, Alejandre told Tribal Business News. Mad River has the capacity to brew 14,000 to 15,000 barrels a year. 

“This made more sense for us, instead of building something from the ground up, which could cost something like $10 million,” Alejandre said. “Now, with the acquisition of Mad River Brewery, we’re honored to extend our expertise in blending tribal identity and craft beer to the northern California community and tribes across the nation.”

The acquisition immediately helps Paskenta expand its brewing capacity and adds some of Indian Country’s best-known craft beers and hard-hopped seltzers to its lineup. Alejandre also sees opportunities for synergy between the two operations, including cross-training across the two companies and potentially leveraging the Mad River brand for distilled spirits.  

“We’re really excited about the brand,” Alejandre said. “We're definitely going to maintain the Mad River, but we’re going to look at ways we can get products from both our businesses into different markets, and to combine the strengths of both of those companies.”

Alejandre said he could not discuss the details of the transaction yet, until that information had been shared more widely with tribal members. The acquisition adds another company to the Paskenta Tribe’s economic portfolio, which also includes the aforementioned Paskenta Brewery and Distillery, an RV Park and Travel Center, the Equestrian Center at Rolling Hills, the Rolling Hills Casino and Resort, and the Links at Rolling Hills Golf Course. 

In an email to Tribal Business News, Cooley called the acquisition a “turning point” for Mad River, which itself emerged from the Yurok Tribe’s acquisition of an existing brewery in 2019. In the time since its first acquisition, Mad River Brewery has forged a series of relationships and partnerships with organizations across California. The brewery has issued beers in partnership with the California State Parks department and the San Francisco Giants, per prior Tribal Business News reporting.

Cooley, who has been involved with Mad River since 2019, said she was glad to see the business would stay in tribal hands as it continued to grow.

“It fills my heart to know the business will remain in tribal hands and continue supporting the tribal community,” Cooley wrote. “I have no doubt Mad River Brewery will continue its growth with this Paskenta partnership.”

Alejandre echoed the sentiment, saying he was “excited” to see the results of Paskenta and Mad River’s work together. 

“The team over there is great, and so it makes sense for us to keep them and let them continue doing what they’re doing,” Alejandre said. “We look forward to doing great things together.”

About The Author
Chez Oxendine
Staff Writer
Chez Oxendine (Lumbee-Cheraw) is a staff writer for Tribal Business News. Based in Oklahoma, he focuses on broadband, Indigenous entrepreneurs, and federal policy. His journalism has been featured in Native News Online, Fort Gibson Times, Muskogee Phoenix, Baconian Magazine, and Oklahoma Magazine, among others.
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